Are you addicted to perfection?

Jul 29, 2010

I refuse to use the word “busy” because in this day and age we are all in the same boat. This year has been an enlightening one for me so far. Truthfully, I decided a couple months ago to take a step back from the constant search to improve. I found myself constantly reading books on getting better at work and life. Also, consistently reading GTD material and listening to podcasts, etc. While this worked for a long time and I tangibly saw the benefits of my learning, I found that it became a vicious pursuit of perfection. The pursuit of perfection is what most of us are after. It’s a noble pursuit. However, it can be an addicting one as well. You can really equate it to a drug addict or alcoholic in some ways. I found myself constantly reading. Finishing one book and picking up the next. Constantly thinking about how to achieve this or to achieve that. At the end of the day, this pursuit of perfection is all about a future state. I found it very difficult to enjoy what was happening in the now.

As I got to this saturation point, I literally stopped reading, stopped writing and stopped researching ways to get better. I didn’t stop working hard, both at work and life, but I decided to just work for the now. To really see if all that I’ve learned and have applied via GTD and other methods was working w/out constantly needing a “coach” around. It’s almost like a golfer who always has his swing coach with him, or his trainer, or his mental coach. While all serve a great purpose, can that golfer produce results on his own? Can he go to the range and figure out how to change his swing w/out someone telling him? When he pulls his drive into the trees late in a round, is he mentally strong enough to recover and execute on his own?

The long and short of it is this. The time that you spend away from the chase is more important than the daily pursuit of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. I firmly believe that. When you take a day off of work, don’t check your blackberry. When you’re on vacation, disconnect as much as possible. When you go to your kid’s soccer game, don’t even bring your phone with you – leave it in the car. When you’ve been working your butt off at the gym all week, take a day off and eat whatever you want. It will make it that much easier to get after it the following week. If you’re married and have kids, step back and don’t feel guilty about going away for a weekend with your husband or wife. It will make you a better parent and partner.

The same goes for GTD. Back off a bit. You don’t have to be perfect. Your systems are going to get out of whack. You’re email’s going to be out of control at times. Your office inbox is going to overflow. The key is to trust what you’ve learned. Trust that you can back off and apply your knowledge to getting yourself back on your game. It’s in this trust that the potential stresses of the craziness subside.

Be well and, again, thanks for sticking with me during this hiatus.

“Happiness is not in the pursuit, for it is in the silent corridors of this thing we call life.” – Unknown


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